Barnet, Charlie

Barnet, (Charles Daly) Charlie

(1913–91) bandleader; born in New York City. He was a saxophonist from a New York socialite family who led his first band on the S.S. Republic in 1929 and subsequently played on many Atlantic crossings for the Cunard and Red Star lines. In 1933 he formed a big band in New York, and in the following year it became the first white orchestra to appear at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem. His personal wealth enabled him to resist racial and musical barriers, and he became one of the first bandleaders to routinely employ African-American musicians and to perform compositions by Duke Ellington. In 1939 he recorded his hit theme song "Cherokee," and he continued to lead an orchestra until 1949, when he disbanded. He occasionally formed bands for specific engagements in the 1950s and 1960s. His autobiography, Those Swinging Years, was published in 1984.